In the past 2000 years, there have been opportunities for Christianity to shine and be true to its original purpose: to help man achieve his best self and in doing so, connecting with God, his creator. If that sounds a bit Gnostic, well, it is. The reality is that early Gnostic Christians were a lot closer to the original Christian communities than today's Catholics or Protestants, and while many Gnostics believed in two Gods (good-spiritual and evil-earthly), their goal of reaching God through knowledge and good works was less of a divergence than the developing orthodox (which prevailed).*
All divergence aside, Christianity still had opportunities to show humanity its stuff: sometimes it was when a disaster hit and the Golden Rule came out in full force. I'm not talking about God's Ambulance Chasers here, but the Christian groups who genuinely helped by mucking out homes and burying the dead. Other times, it was in one man's truly compassionate spirit, like Father Damien who ministered to the lepers on Molokai.
There were also times, of course, where some Christians blew it: one opportunity - the AIDS crisis - was given short shrift by the people who cast AIDS victims out of their homes while they were sick and dying (yeah, I'm talking about you, Southern Baptists!).
Compassion was in short supply in many Christian communities. It was a time when "progressives" began to emerge in spite of all the self-righteousness. They did what little they could to foster understanding and acceptance and hope. They realized, of course, that they were very late (by the time the Episcopal Archdiocese of Los Angeles opened the first faith-based AIDS agency outside of San Francisco, 65,000 had suffered and died), but they joined a growing chorus of compassionate people and continued to grow in compassion.**
So now Christians around the world are given another opportunity to present the best and brightest aspects of Christianity: the Occupy Wall Street movement. And yes, some of them are performing admirably with emotional and even physical support, but a loud cacophony of naysayers against the movement has formed, a group who are disgusted with the idea of any humane, equitable economics.
"The Pope Is Now Left Of Nancy Pelosi"
The Vatican issued a statement two months ago that leveled the Christian Right like a one-two punch. It was titled Towards Reforming The International Financial and Monetary Systems In The Context of Global Public Authority and sent shock waves throughout Christendom for its blatant support of movements like OWS. It called for MORE government and MORE financial oversight.
But most telling of all - it was for the poor and disenfranchised. It had a human spirit more than a spiritual one. It embraced, in effect, the Spirit of Christmas.
The Vatican had seen its opportunity for a shining moment.
The word is out that Zuccotti Park will be closed around Christmas for "renovations". The tree (as you can see) is already barricaded from the obscene 99%ers. So it seems Christmas is indeed locked up tight in the arms of the Christian Right - which is only right, since they feel they "own" Christmas and they can do whatever they want with it, wherever they want to do it. But as we have seen here and across the country, the Spirit of Christmas is now with 99% of the country (and around the world).
OWS is giving Christianity another shining moment. Too bad the Christian Right won't take the hint - again.
NEXT: Transcending Christmas: The Final Chapter
*Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas has stated flatly that faith alone is necessary to get one to heaven, possibly negating the works of people like Clara Barton and Florence Nightgale. "Faith without works is dead," doesn't seem to be grasped by people like Jeffress.
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